Pair of mountaineers climbing a hill

Protection for your club and its members

Clubs who are members of Mountaineering Scotland are provided cover for all their club activities.

Incidents happen. That's why all sports organisations have full and appropriate insurance protection. Without it, clubs can be held financially liable to compensate for losses for which you do not hold valid insurance.

Combined Liability cover

Combined Liability provides protection from the consequences of claims against Mountaineering Scotland club for injury, financial loss or damage to property, where negligence occurs. It provides a breadth of cover that is rarely available through non-specialist brokers, providing cover for legal liability under civil law to the general public for personal injury or damage to third party property.

All Mountaineering Scotland clubs have a responsibility to ensure that anything they do does not cause injury or financial loss to others or damage to property. If they do, and negligence is proved, they could become legally liable to pay compensation.

Here are some frequently asked questions about cover for clubs

Combined Liability Insurance provides for legal liability following negligence, nuisance or trespass. Unlike other liability insurances, it not only covers Public Liability (where you are liable for injury or damage to other persons or their property), but also includes cover for the following, which are excluded from other providers standard covers:

  • Professional Indemnity – injury following advice or instruction given by an individual or club member operating in voluntary capacity
  • Directors and Officers cover – for decisions made by club committees
  • Libel & Slander – liability following something you might have said or written down (including website, emails etc.)
  • Abuse – liability incurred by a club as a failure of their duty of care

Cover includes recognised activities, which include:

  • Climbing indoor and outdoor
  • Winter and summer mountaineering
  • Rock climbing
  • Abseiling
  • Scrambling
  • Gorge-walking
  • Canyoning
  • Hill walking
  • Low-level walking
  • Guided walks
  • Fell and mountain running
  • Slack lining (not high lining)
  • Navigation
  • Camping
  • Tyrolean traverse
  • Bouldering
  • Coasteering
  • Route setting
  • Emergency first aid in the outdoor
  • Ski-mountaineering
  • Orienteering
  • Ski touring

Secondary activities including mountain biking, canoeing/kayaking or caving, but only when carried out as part of a club meet and undertaken by those members who are competent in the particular activity (ie not novices).

Representation on any management committee or acting as a trustee with respect to the operation of mountaineering huts

Combined Liability is designed specifically to meet the needs of the organisation and its affiliated individual members, club members and Associations.

This includes the following:

  • Individual Members and Club Members
  • Club Volunteers
  • Hut Wardens 
  • Trustees of clubs
  • Employees
  • Committee Members
  • Officers, Trustees and Volunteers
The Combined Liability policy is written on what is known as a “claims made” basis. This means that the policy provides cover for those claims reported during the period of insurance, rather than the policy that was in force at the time of the incident.

Combined Liability cover for clubs does not have an age limit.

Insurance cover is only available to fully paid up members who have a permanent UK address. Such members are covered for mountaineering activities in both the UK and overseas (but excluding USA and Canada). Members with a permanent UK address who are working on a temporary contract or serving with the armed forces abroad are included within the cover, for mountaineering activities in both the UK and overseas (but excluding USA and Canada).

Any member permanently living abroad is not covered because the policy is subject to UK jurisdiction and the underwriters will not extend cover to permanent overseas residents. 

Exclusions or limitations include:

  • Risks that require more specific insurance, i.e. Motor, marine
  • Loss of or damage to property in your custody or control
  • Pollution unless caused by a sudden identifiable unintended and unexpected incident
  • Any legal action brought against the insured in a court of law within the United States of America or Canada other than where a member is in USA or Canada
  • Fines, penalties or punitive damages
  • Damage to products supplied and work and the repair, replacement or recall of same work
  • Claims arising out of or in connection with asbestos
  • Repair of defects in premises disposed of
  • Claims arising out of or in connection with damage to any data
  • Nuclear risks
  • War risks
  • Deliberate, dishonest or foreseeable acts
  • Infringement of trademark name registered design copyright or patent right
  • Medical negligence
  • Abuse - the person accused of abuse / alleged to be the abuser. Charges of abuse against an individual are brought under criminal law and as such are not covered by this policy.
  • Claims arising from loss happening prior to the retroactive date stated in the schedule, which would be the date that your continuous membership first commenced.
  • Incidents / claims known to you but not reported to the insurers immediately

In the event of a claim your limit of indemnity is the maximum your policy will pay. Howden recently handled a catastrophic injury claim which paid in excess of £10m. As claims inflation costs increase, the need for a higher limit of indemnity to protect you is vital. 

Professional Indemnity provides cover following negligent advice. For example, if you share knowledge with a colleague on the hill and a claim results from advice you have given, this part of the policy would apply.
There have been cases of members of sports clubs having disputes within clubs. Posts on web sites and contained in emails could also be potentially Libellous, for example.

Yes, but only for:

  • Legal expenses for defence of actions
  • Legal Defence Costs are included for the defence of criminal actions brought in respect of a breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Section II of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. The Limit of Indemnity if £250,000.

No, however you can take out cover via:

Members of clubs declared as being active to enjoy cover on activities undertaken with the registering club, another club or individually.

You should immediately record relevant information concerning incidents involving a fatal accident, an injury involving either referral to or actual hospital treatment, any allegations of libel / slander, any allegations of professional negligence, i.e. arising out of advice given, any investigation under any child protection legislation or any circumstance involving damage to third party property. You must report every claim and any incident that is likely to give rise to a claim in the future.

Incident Notification Guidelines are included elsewhere on the site. Do not admit liability; do not make an offer or promise to pay. Please see separate instructions and Incident Report Forms on this site.

No, the Combined Liability policy provides protection for claims made against you by third parties due to your negligence, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. If you are injured and believe that a third party is at fault, you should seek legal advice on how to pursue a claim against the person(s) responsible for causing the injury.
Yes, Clubs are provided with Directors and Officers cover and Abuse cover.

As a committee member, you may not realise it, but the constitution of your club almost certainly makes you personally liable for the liability of the organisation. Combined Liability provides Directors and Officers cover in order to protect you in the event of you being sued for negligent decisions.

Abuse is where an individual has been either mentally or physically mistreated, including sexual molestation. Clubs have a legal duty of care to all members, but especially young persons and vulnerable adults. If someone alleges that the club have failed in their duty of care, your Combined Liability cover will provide protection against damages awarded. The alleged perpetrator is not provided with any indemnity.
For insurance purposes a member of a club who no longer participates in club events, including social activities, need not be declared in the submission by that club. However, such members may wish to continue to support by paying the subscription fee. We maintain a database of registered club members. In the event of a claim, the database will be used to establish whether a member of a club involved in a claim is registered and eligible for cover.
The policy automatically includes the club committee and members who are registered. However, sometimes a local authority will request to be added to the cover (if you are using their climbing wall for example). The cover requested is included under “indemnity to principles”, meaning that the authority automatically has cover under the policy in respect of any liability it may have that would have been covered if the claim had been made against the club.

Activities involving members of clubs ‘sharing knowledge and experience’ is within the scope of our policy. Members of clubs who hold mountaineering awards appropriate for a given activity may lead or instruct fellow members of their own club, without charge, and enjoy cover through the policy without the need for personal professional indemnity insurance.

The policy does not provide cover for members who are providing advice or instruction for a fee. Specific instructors insurance should be obtained in this case.

Where clubs undertake activities or events involving unaccompanied children or young people under the age of 18, it is a mandatory requirement of Howden that the club has an appropriate Child Protection Policy in place. This will ensure that the officers and members of that club are covered by the Policy in the event of a claim against them made following injury to a child. In the event of such a claim being made, the insurance policy may be invalidated if no Child Protection Policy is in operation.

Assuming that the Club constitution allows their membership, children (under 18 years old) may join a club and participate in its activities and the club will be indemnified against liability. Although children legally cannot be held responsible for their actions, the insurance charge is still applicable because when liabilities are incurred by a child in respect of third party personal injury or property damage, the duty of care will ultimately lie with the club.

Insurance cover is provided for a club if a claim is made against it for civil damages following an allegation of abuse against a child. No cover is provided should such a claim be made against an individual accused of abuse because such cases are brought under criminal rather than civil law. The insurance policy responds to civil claims only and would not respond to any criminal allegation.

If a spectator is injured, and it is as a result of negligence of a member, the member or club responsible will be protected by the insurance policy should a claim be made.

In general terms, if a non-member participates in a club event, they are not personally covered by the insurance. If that person causes a claim to be made they can be sued on a personal basis, or the club can also be held responsible and may be brought into legal action. CLI will cover the club, its officials, and its members and the event only. The non-member is not covered in his / her own right and therefore, should that person (who is uninsured) be the subject of a claim by a member of the club who is insured, the member who brings the claim may be unable to receive any damages awarded, due to the lack of insurance held by the non-member if they are unable to pay the damages.

There will be occasions when non-members will wish to attend a meet as a guest before they decide whether they wish to join the club. In this context we have agreed with our insurers that a guest may participate in up to 4 meetings before they should be registered with the organisation for insurance purposes. There is automatic cover for the club when individuals participate in club events on a guest or trial basis. The club is indemnified for liability and the individual guest has insurance in his / her own right in respect of these four “taster” sessions. If a guest continues to participate with the club on a regular basis, however, they should be made either a prospective or full member, or the relevant subscription sent to us.

Members joining a Club must be registered within one month of joining that club.


Employers Liability protects the employer in the event of an injury to an employee, for which the Employer is liable for, i.e. when the employee sues the employer. The club could be construed as an employer where they use cleaners, or ask a volunteer to carry out “work” for them. Public Liability protects the Club / Association/Governing Body / Instructor / Member / Employee if a member or public sue them for injury /damage caused by the club etc. 

Employers’ Liability Insurance provides cover for a club in respect of any liability it has for an injury to someone working on its behalf. This would include someone cleaning or carrying out maintenance work on a club property, whether they are a volunteer or a paid employee. If a person was injured and claimed that the club was responsible because they were working on its behalf, the Employers’ Liability policy would protect the club.